Human beings are inherently unstable. Just think about a cat or a dog or any other animals moving on four legs. They are very stable. Humans on the other hand balance over a much smaller area – our two feet – and are much more prone to falling.
So we are always in the process of recovering our balance. This is something we learn to do at a very early age. Just watch a toddler and the many times they sink to the floor and get up again!
As we get older, our system can lose some of this body learning that helps us recover and maintain our balance. But this doesn’t have to happen! The answer to this is to refresh our learning and, by doing this, to improve our stability and flexibility.
The latest neuroscience is discovering what Dr Moshe Feldenkrais discovered many decades ago: the human person is capable of improving their functioning at any age.
I want you to think about what parts of your body are involved in movement. If you come to the conclusion that all parts are involved you are dead right! Not only that, but the functioning of one part affects the functioning of all the other parts – for better or for worse depending on our existing habits or patterns of movement.
Let me take you through this. Our feet of course are crucial to walking. The flexibility of our toes and ankles helps us to keep our balance. If we lack flexibility in toes and ankles we will be more prone to falling. Moving on up the body, if our ankles and toes are not able to adjust to our movements (through flexibility), then we will have problems aligning them to our hips. When our foot is well-aligned to our hips, then a lot of knee issues will be resolved. Lower joint problems can cascade up to our lower backs and on up towards shoulders and head. One thing out of joint, so to speak, puts everything else out of good alignment.
By simply bringing your attention to any one of these areas – exploring through kinaesthetic or proprioceptive sensing how that part moves in relation to the others – gives your brain the opportunity to discover better ways of moving that put less stress on your structure, i.e. your joints.
So developing better co-ordination of all parts of our body in easier movement is all about learning. There is no quick fix to poor movement habits. It takes time to learn and embed better habits. Do you remember how long it took you to learn to ride a bike or acquire a new skill?
So what’s so different about the Feldenkrais Method®?
The Feldenkrais Method is an early pioneering practice of applied neuroplasticity . It is the first method designed to improve people’s body functioning applying insight into the flexibility of the brain using movement.
Unlike many other treatments, therapies or somatic practices – such as Pilates, yoga, tai chi, physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic – the Feldenkrais Method® was developed from the beginning as a way of body learning (somatic education). It used insights and understanding of neuroplasticity and many other developments in the 20th century including eastern practices ( such as martial arts) and western scientific knowledge in order to improve human functioning in all daily activities in both “body” and “mind”.
Dr Feldenkrais was a genius in his ability to bring all these things together into one method – drawing on his background as a physicist and inventor, a judo expert, a student of psychology, physiology, anatomy, and emerging neuroscience .
Only in the last 10 years is science beginning to catch up with what Dr Feldenkrais fully understood. Dr Lara Boyd, Director of the Brain Behaviour Laboratory at the University of British Columbia, researches what makes for successful rehabilitation after, for example, a stroke or accident versus what makes for a poor outcome with little if any improvement. In her TED talk she identifies the big difference is learning – being motivated to learn. Not just repetitive exercise but focused learning which she also emphasizes can be effective at any age.
As a Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner I help you utilize this capacity of the brain to rewire to improve your functioning. This includes your ability to maintain your balance and prevent falls. Using gentle movement explorations to increase your awareness, all of the major balance systems of the body are woken up in order to work better for you in their connections to different parts of your body. You can learn to align your head, back, pelvis, legs, and feet so that you can move with greater ease while remaining stable and well-balanced.
– Alan Cameron ©